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Afghanistan’s neighbors mute on women’s rights in Taliban dialogues

AT News

KABUL – Amid escalating violations by the Taliban against women and minorities, including arbitrary arrests, Afghanistan’s neighboring countries appear to turn a blind eye to the pressing issue of women’s rights in their engagements with the group. The absence of a fully-formed government in Afghanistan has prompted regional authorities to opt for temporary engagement with the Taliban, sidestepping the critical matter of women’s rights. This indifferent approach raises concerns about the well-being of Afghan women and girls in the face of ongoing violations.

In a recent meeting organized by the Taliban in Kabul, envoys from several regional nations spoke about a spectrum of issues, ranging from bolstering trade to resolving water disputes and combating transregional terrorism, but they failed to address the pressing issue of the Taliban’s rights violations.

According to the ICG’s findings, collaborative efforts between the Taliban and regional countries in these areas, while challenging, are deemed valuable. The report urges Western capitals not to obstruct these cooperative endeavors.

Despite the Taliban’s attempts to foster cooperation, their treatment of women and the denial of education for girls have marred their global image. Diplomatic cancellations by Western officials underscore the temporary nature of engagements with the Taliban due to their discriminatory policies against women and girls.

While some regional countries have expressed condemnation for the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls, overall, there is a reluctance among regional authorities to emphasize and champion women’s and girls’ rights. The report suggests that regional powers lean towards patient cooperation with the Taliban as opposed to outright rejection, aligning with their long-term interests and fostering behavioral changes within the Taliban.

The report highlights that the Taliban’s exclusion of former adversaries from their cabinet formation has led regional actors to opt for partial engagement on specific issues. Security concerns, primarily focused on countering the threat of terrorism, remain a top priority for the region. Notably, exceptions such as Pakistan, which has faced attacks from the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) following the Taliban’s return to power, deviate from this overarching trend.

Emphasizing the importance of bridging the information gap between the Taliban and regional countries, the report calls for increased dialogue to build trust and collaboratively address regional security challenges. Despite the complexities involved, maintaining open lines of communication is identified as the most promising avenue for diplomatic engagement in the foreseeable future.

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